When this disease began it was scary. I was scared for the clients, scared for myself and my family. There was a scare in the house I work in and I decided I would work no matter what comes. I knew I was needed. The tests did all come back negative and it was fine but I still isolated from my family for a month and it was hard. I know though, no matter what happens we’re going to keep following the CDC protocols and even though it’s tough we’re going to get through it.
This work is an extension of your humanity because not everyone is as fortunate and we have a duty to help each other. We need to hold each other's hand regardless of race and ability or whatever else is going on. You are helping a fellow human to be able to fit in and live life to the fullest regardless of what their limitations are and I believe that by doing so you are expressing a part of humanity, and doing so should be a normal thing. Like helping an elderly person cross the street or saving a child who’s caught in a building from a fire. We should all help people live life to the fullest and by doing so we can live our lives to the fullest.
I was so happy when I saw the individual I support get better after a positive COVID situation. I saw someone go from being healthy, then to being very sick. To see them get healthy again was very rewarding. But, continuing to work with the risk was not an easy decision to make. I had grown a beard to mourn my brother who passed and I had to shave to wear the N95. I decided to shave because this is the work that my brother would want me to do.
This job isn’t easy but we try our best. You have to be patient, and if someone has a hard time communicating, you have to know their thoughts. You never stop being a teacher even if for some people it seems you have to do everything for them. It’s not like babysitting. You have to learn everything about someone to be able to give them the care they need. You have to be there.
I’ve been in the health sector for about 34 years now. I was a registered nurse back home in Africa and I’ve been assisting people with disabilities since 1983. When I came to America my first thought was to be trained as a direct support professional. I love what I do supporting those that are in need. It’s an important section of society. People who are successful in this kind of work really have compassion and they can’t do it for the money, they have to want to make a difference.
When the pandemic hit and the schools shut down I didn’t work for weeks. I stayed at home and I was scared to do anything, even to go to the store. But I didn’t hesitate when they asked me to come back to work. I love my job and I’m very comfortable here. I really like children and I’m glad I have the opportunity to help.
I am a DSP because I have compassion. As a human being I really reach out emotionally and feel a need to help and be involved with someone’s life. Helping others is what life is all about. As a DSP I’m a companion, I help the people I support participate in their lives. I help them discover and use their talents. Everyone has potential and I want to help everyone realize theirs.
When I started working for CSS I realized that there’s a lot of people who need help and I feel like this is my mission. This is what I want to do and this is my calling. I’m currently enrolled in school for two majors, Behavior Sciences and Health Administration. We all see things out our community and in the world and you have to ask yourself, “What can I do? What I can I put out there? How can I help?” CSS inspired me to go back to school because I want to make a difference. I’m very proud of that.
The pandemic has really changed the way we do things. In the beginning it was so hard. We all had to shift away from our old activities and embrace a different way of thinking. We had to stay away from other people and leave behind the things we used to do in order to avoid getting sick. There was a real challenge to fill the days with new activities that are still meaningful because we don’t want to sit around and not doing anything. The guys I support love to go outdoors. We’ve done a lot of things to incorporate both of their interests into the schedule.
You have to get some kind of impact on someone’s life. You have to do something good. In this work I help someone get out. To do things and to see the people he wants. To do this work you have to remember, that the person in need could be any of us. It could be me or my loved ones. Everyone needs our help and support.
Back home, in Africa, I worked with war affected kids and children who lived on the streets. When I started working in the US, I thought I could use my skills to do this kind of work, working with individuals with disabilities.
Where I am from people with disabilities were treated from the family homes and were segregated out of society. Working as a DSP is an opportunity for me to put what I have in my heart into action and help integrate the individuals with disability into society.
I work in this field because I know the work and I know that it's important. I have a sister who has a disability and other family members who are disabled. The job is challenging but I know we are helping.
I love the people I work with, I feel I have the tools I need to make a difference such as how to implement behavior plans and other trainings. The things I have learned through my job have helped me with my family responsibilities.
I have seen in my country a lot of people suffering. I always want to help and I have volunteered in the past. I felt this was another opportunity to help. I love doing what I do. We will get through this thing.